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Credit Report Information

Credit reports keep track of your financial history and report everything from loans to late utility payments. This report is kept by credit reporting companies and is given to financial institutions when they want to check on what kind of credit risk a potential borrower is. Even landlords and employers can request this information so they can determine whether to rent property to or employ the person in question.

There are three main credit reporting companies in the U.S., namely Equifax, Transunion and Experian. Credit reports include things such as employment, loan and credit history, collection records, bankruptcies and tax liens. All credit card and loan records going back seven years show up on the report.

Credit data may be shown in various ways depending on where you obtained your report. The most basic form of credit report is printed out with pages showing a confusing array of abbreviations and codes that are only understood by lenders. Fortunately, reports given to consumers are translated into formats that are easy to read.

Information on your credit history is given to credit bureaus by lenders and credit card companies via electronic transmission. The schedule for this reporting is not fixed, but companies usually send updates every 30 days. Credit reporting companies also receive reports from tax agencies and the post office as well as courts. Most information stays on the credit report for seven years. Some information, such as bankruptcies, can stay on record for 10 years.

In order to remove fraudulent, expired, or inaccurate information from credit reports it is necessary to contact the credit bureau and submit a dispute request. Each credit bureau will have to be sent a separate letter in order to submit a dispute. Credit reporting companies have up to 30 days to take action and investigate the dispute.

When the credit bureau confirms that the information is incorrect they will remove it and send a letter with a credit report that has been updated. If the correction cannot be confirmed they will send a letter with an explanation. Information that is accurate cannot be removed from a credit report before the set expiration date.

Credit reports are used by lenders, insurers, creditors, landlords, employers, courts, cell phone companies and utility companies. There are "permissible purpose" laws that allow these businesses to gain legal access to credit reports so that they can evaluate finances and determine whether to grant a loan or employ a person. Credit reports that have a clean record ensure that those seeking a loan can obtain the best interest rates, while people with less than perfect credit reports can expect to pay significantly higher interest rates.

Credit reports should be checked every 6-12 months so that any inaccuracies or signs of identity theft can be spotted before major credit and financial damage has occurred. Credit bureaus are required by law to give people free access to their credit reports. This site is geared towards consumers in the United States. For visitors in other countries, a site with information specific to your country is necessary, since laws differ nationally.

For visitors from the UK is an example of a site dealing with services involving your credit (low insurance rates) and where specific information can be obtained relevant to the UK.

For more, see our article on the FICO Credit Score.


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